Pioneer DJ dives back into the headphone game with the release of their latest rendition of their HDJ headphone series: the HDJ-CUE1. Released this week, the design aims to bring durability and multi-purpose usage (on the decks, in the studio, and for casual listening). The real kicker is that they’re under $100, have color customization kits, and are available in two models: wired and wireless Bluetooth.
Built for performing and casual listening
The CUE1 sits in the line of Pioneer DJ’s professional DJ headphone line, but is intended to reach a broader audience of users – described as “optimal for beginner DJs and music enthusiasts alike.” This is intriguing since DJs and producers tend to be quite particular about their headphone choice. That said, Pioneer DJ seems to have thought through what might make a “crossover” (personal and DJ) pair of headphones appealing:
First, the headphones are built to be lightweight and fold neatly into a bag for easy travel between gigs. It also comes with a swivel mechanism that lets you turn the ear cups 90 degrees, making mixing much easier when you prefer to listen to a cued track along with one playing out of your monitor. The movement here offers some flexibility rather than needing to constantly flip your headphones on and off as you’re playing.
Pioneer DJ also built the HDJ-CUE1 with durability in mind. With our experience thus far, they’ve been sturdy and significant – no signs of snapping or breaking easily, which can be a relief when bringing your headphones to a club or party setting. Let’s be real: they might not have the same durability as a $299 pair of headphones, but that’s not what these are designed for. The cable bayonet connector and L-shaped mini-jack both play a role in safeguarding the headphones from getting unplugged while DJing, and they come with a coiled cable to give you a bit of extra stretch in the booth.
Plus, you get a color choice
The HDJ-CUE1 comes in an array of color choices, including dark silver, black, red, and white. The customization doesn’t stop there, either – you can also swap out the earpads and cables with bright colors if you’re looking to stand out, including orange, green, blue, pink, and yellow.
Our quick-take review
Comfort & feel: After testing the CUE1 for a few days, we found that the fit was snug and comfortable, without being too tight (because there’s nothing worse than a pair of headache-inducing headphones). It’s not as head-clamping as other headphones in this price bracket.
Customization: Switching the color pads takes a bit of time to remove and replace, but the ability to customize with your own color choice is worth the time it takes.
Bluetooth connection: In many cases, wireless headphones fail when they don’t behave how you expect them too. We found the CUE1s to be reliable, clear, and simple to switch devices. There’s a built in microphone, and everything sounds acceptable over Bluetooth. The volume and pause/play/advance buttons are just icing on the case.
Isolation: One of the biggest demands of any set of DJ cans comes in loud environments (like DJ booths). Great DJ headphones have a lot of passive isolation – meaning they block out external sounds. The CUE1s do a great job, even compared to higher-end models. I was able to blast the Booth Out while mixing and the headphones did a solid job of blocking it all out to be able to hear the cued track.
Sound: Look, every model of DJ headphones will have different sound characteristics – that’s why you should always try to test a pair before you buy any set. These CUE1s have 40mm drivers in them and sound solid – we noticed an emphasis on the low end here, which is often what sells DJs on headphones. The mids and highs were a bit less prominent comparatively, but still more than decent for the price point.
Is it worthwhile for DJs?
Ultimately, these are headphones that we would add to our typical DJ gear – particularly the Bluetooth model, which can be utilized wirelessly or with its own wired cord for usage in any scenario. We enjoyed having the ability to switch seamlessly between using the Bluetooth connection to listen to music via computer and phone, then plugging them in when we’re on the decks. We dig the CUE1s, and at a $100-or-less price point, we think they’re worth the investment.
The HDJ-CUE1 is available now. The wired version, which comes solely in dark silver, sits at $69; the Bluetooth version (which can be both wireless and wired, as mentioned) is priced at $99 and can be purchased in matte black, white, and red. If you want more color, there are accessory packs on either model – each color package with 2 earpads and a cable is available at $30.